01/26/11 — Duplin bus flips; students injured

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Duplin bus flips; students injured

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 26, 2011 1:46 PM

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A North Duplin Elementary School bus overturned this morning on Ralph Sutton Road. A dozen students were taken to Duplin Memorial Hospital but no serious injuries were reported. The state Highway Patrol was investigating the accident.

MOUNT OLIVE -- Twelve North Duplin Elementary School students were taken to Duplin General Hospital in Kenansville shortly after 7 a.m. this morning after the school bus in which they were riding rolled over on its side on Ralph Sutton Road.

Another 13 students declined to be transported and were transferred to other buses. Information was not available about the driver.

The extent of the students' injuries was not immediately available, but appear to be minor and non-life-threatening, said a Duplin County Schools spokesman and a Highway Patrol officer on the scene.

"We did have a bus accident this morning and transported 11 students to the hospital, 14 refused," said Duplin Schools spokeswoman Dawn Craft. "It is under investigation. We don't know the cause.

"Of course our major concern right now is the children."

Ms. Craft said parents were being contacted and that she would have an official statement later in the day.

Highway Patrol Trooper Will Thurston said the bus was traveling northeast on Ralph Sutton Road toward its intersection with Tram Road about nine miles southeast of Mount Olive when the accident happened.

"We don't know why she ran off the road," he said.

The bus was in a left-hand curve when it ran off the right side of the road less than a half-mile from the intersection, he said.

The driver attempted to bring the bus back onto the road. However, the bus struck the ditch turning over on its right side.

He estimated the bus' speed at between 30 and 35 miles per hour.

Thurston, who said he was not the investigating officer, said it was premature to say what had caused the accident and whether or not Wednesday morning's rain and fog had been contributing factors.

The bus has a video-recording device and that recording will be reviewed and witnesses interviewed, he said.

A fire truck blocked the intersection and the public and media were denied immediate access to the wreck scene that was partly obscured by fog.

Fire fighters directed traffic and spoke to several people who stopped to ask what had happened. Nearby residents stood in their yards watching.

The sides of the road near the scene were lined with Highway Patrol and Duplin Sheriff's Office cars as well as fire trucks and EMS vehicles.

Oak Wolfe and Pleasant Grove fire departments responded to the scene as did Oak Wolfe first responders. Duplin County EMS had two vehicles on the scene as will as two each from Wayne County and Johnston Ambulance Service.